Today, fishermen and Greenpeace sailed up the River Thames together to bring an urgent message to the government: We need immediate and urgent action to protect our oceans along the South and East Coast.
🤩 the floatila of fisherman and Greenpeace is fast approaching Tower Bridge, on their way to Westminster to deliver their message to government #GetOceanProtectionDone #NoFishNoFuture pic.twitter.com/7ObztvnQ57
— Greenpeace UK (@GreenpeaceUK) September 22, 2021
This is the first fishing flotilla to sail up the Thames since the infamous ‘Brexit flotilla’ of 2016. Greenpeace’s boat sailed alongside the fishermen as they returned to demand that ministers keep the promises they made to fishing communities before the Brexit vote. And thankfully, Nigel Farage and Bob Geldof didn’t make an appearance this time round.
Greenpeace activists also held protests on two of London’s main bridges, in solidarity with fishing communities. Displaying banners reading ‘NO FISH NO FUTURE’, they played fishermen’s testimonials over loudspeakers, ensuring their stories can’t be ignored.
Unlike the giant industrial fishing companies that trash our oceans, these local fishermen are custodians of the sea, who support their communities. Today, is about amplifying their voices on water, on land and online.
Declaring an emergency
Operation Ocean Witness launched at the beginning of summer to investigate and confront destructive fishing in Marine Protected Areas.
We spotted countless industrial fishing boats in the protected areas and learned from local fishing communities that there are often no fish left for them to catch. It’s almost the end of the road for small-scale fishers along the South and East Coast.
This is an emergency, and politicians should treat it like one. Fishing communities from around the region, along with allied businesses and organisations including Greenpeace UK, are calling on the UK government to take urgent action. You can read our joint statement here.
The changes we’re calling for include permanent bans for supertrawlers, bottom trawlers and fly-shooters in all marine protected areas more than 12 nautical miles from the coast in the English Channel, and a ban on pelagic trawlers over 55m in length, and fly-shooters in the entire English Channel and Southern North Sea.
These measures would boost catches for local fishers, revive coastal communities and provide space for marine ecosystems and fish populations to recover from years of devastation by industrial fishing. This would also be a vital step towards the UK government delivering its target of protecting 30% of the UK’s and the world’s oceans by 2030.
Fishing communities are at breaking point
We’ve been at sea all summer bearing witness to the destruction taking place in the English Channel and nearby waters. We’ve worked closely with local fishermen, and when you’re on the water with them, it’s very clear; our fishing communities are at breaking point. They won’t survive much longer without urgent action from the government.
Fishing communities, anglers, charter skippers, fishmongers and environmental groups alike support these measures. We hope that by coming together to fight for the same thing, our government will finally start taking big, urgent, practical steps towards delivering this goal. If these requests are ignored, multinational fishing companies will continue to have free reign to wreck our oceans, threatening the livelihoods of the local fishers who are the backbone of our coastal communities.